Corporate Social Responsibility and competitiveness
A strategic approach to CSR is increasingly important to the competitiveness of enterprises.
It can bring benefits in terms of risk management, cost savings, access to capital, customer relationships, human resource management, and innovation capacity.
Because CSR requires engagement with internal and external stakeholders, it enables enterprises to better anticipate and take advantage of fast changing societal expectations and operating conditions.
It can therefore drive the development of new markets and create opportunities for growth.
Supporting market reward for responsible business conduct
The positive impacts of CSR on competitiveness are increasingly recognised, but enterprises still face dilemmas when the most socially responsible course of action may not be the most financially beneficial, at least in the short term.
The European Commission has identified three areas of European policy that can be leveraged to strengthen the market reward for responsible business conduct:
- Consumption: the revision of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan may provide an opportunity to identify new measures to facilitate more responsible consumption practices.
- Public procurement: in its review of the Public Procurement Directives, the Commission intends to facilitate the better integration of social and environmental considerations into public procurement.
- Investment: the Commission will consider a requirement on all investors to inform their clients about ant ethical or responsible investment criteria they apply.
Reports and analyses: Does Corporate Responsibility Pay Off?
A 2010 report [2 MB] , written for the European Commission by a team from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, explores the links between CSR and competitiveness in 3 European industrial sectors: construction, textiles and chemicals.
The 2008 European Competitiveness report [121 KB] contains an analysis of how CSR can contribute to competiveness. It concludes that CSR is increasingly a competitive necessity for enterprises, but that it needs to be integrated into business strategy and purpose in order to become an effective competitive differentiator.
It also points out that CSR may influence macro-level competitiveness by helping to build greater trust in enterprises as a group.